Setting, Character, Incident

Every writer knows that setting, character and incident are the three vital ingredients in any story. In other words, a story needs to take place somewhere, involve somebody, and something has to happen. There also needs to be some line of desire for a story to work - your character has to want something. 

Last week, I found myself getting a bit bored with making embroidered flowers and purely decorative designs inspired by Rosemary McLeod's book of vintage textile projects. I fancied a change, and decided to combine my two favourite crafts - writing short stories and sewing, and see if I could create some narrative textiles.

You might recall a post from last year about a series of pop-up cards I made using various illustrations from Frankie magazine. I remembered the potential I saw in the silhouettes of the cut-out images and thought that felt versions of these might work well as appliqu├ęd details on fabric. I also remember that my sister Therese left a comment on that post, remarking on the narrative she observed in the pop-up cards I made. She wrote: 'Hmmm, interesting. There's something of the caged domestic goddess here, comforted by, but quietly rebelling against her own constructed bliss…shadows looming, arms outstretched, handles reaching into the abyss…I like it.'

I set to work mocking up a textless narrative composition that could generate a variety of stories. I thought of the reaching boy as the main character, desperate to escape from his restrictive life. Jack thought the black silhouette of a girl with her hand outstretched was the central character, torn between her commitment to her family, and her love for the orange man, who she is reaching towards.

I tacked all the pieces to the red wool background and carefully sewed them in place with very small stitches. 

I like the way that the design resembles panels from a cartoon. I think I can do more with this device to suggest an unfolding narrative. I'm going to turn this one into a bag, but I'll definitely develop the idea of sewn stories further.


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